National Runaway Safeline

How Teens Can Find Professional Help for Their Mental Health

How Teens Can Find Professional Help for Their Mental Health | National Runaway Safeline
Image courtesy of Domenico Sisi (Flickr Creative Commons)

Opening up to someone, be it a friend, family member or a professional, can be scary.

Being a young person is difficult at times with new relationships, pressure at school and all the other messy things that happen with growing up. Having to navigate all that while also battling other feelings, emotions, anxieties or possibly a mental illness makes it even harder.

In order to help teens and young adults that may be struggling with mental issues, here are some great resources that youth can access in order to get help. There are also methods to determine how to find the service provider that a teen can trust and build a relationship with.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a potential resource and they are a wonderful resource! There are also multiple outlets and forms of support.

The first is To Write Love On Her Arms and their primary focus is those struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide. It all started when the founder wanted to tell the story of a friend that was struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide. He posted a story he wrote detailing the time he spent with her before she went into treatment, which can be read on the site. Before long, he was responding to messages worldwide and in 2007, TWLOHA came into existence. TWLOHA has an online community where you can connect with others and links to local resources such as crisis hotlines, treatment resources and support groups.

Go Ask Alice! is a team of health professionals, information and research specialists and writers at Columbia University answering any questions a person may have about health, health education and mental health. They have an online database of questions as well as an email system to submit questions to be answered.

TeensHealth is a safe and private website providing information about health, emotions and life in general; all of the information is reviewed by medical experts to make sure readers are receiving accurate information but without all the confusing medical jargon! In the section entitled Mind, they have numerous drop downs with potential questions or concerns, such as; feeling sad, body image, relationships, dealing with problems, etc…

And as always, contact the National Runaway Safeline for more resources or just to talk. NRS is available on the crisis line 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) and also have online communication such as chat, email, forum and texting. Visit for more information.

Ok! So the first step is to contact someone to talk to. It is a brave thing to do because it can be scary. But how does one start the conversation?

When meeting with a mental health professional, be very open about what’s going on. Talk about recent feelings, future goals, worries or fears; the person should listen and shouldn’t judge. If, after the initial meeting and the person does not feel like the right fit, it may be necessary to look for a different person. Growth and healing are paramount.

Determine the options for treatment, such as:

  • Individual meetings
  • Different forms of treatment, such as; substance abuse treatment
  • Group sessions
  • Family sessions

Take notes in order to remember everything and think about it all afterwards. It can be confusing during the initial conversation and writing things down can help make healthy decisions. It helps to set goals for future treatment.

If reaching out to an adult such as a parent, a trusted teacher or coach or a friend’s parent, that’s very brave too.  The conversation will probably be a little different. Since the person may not be a trained mental health professional, s/he may not be as likely to talk about treatment options. The person may be able to help find someone else, such as; a school social worker or guidance counselor. That conversation might start off with something like “I’m having these feelings and I’m not sure what they are. Can I talk with you?” or “I think I need some help.”

Again, everyone deserves to feel heard especially when it comes to mental health. It is okay to talk about it. In fact, talking can help an individual to learn healthy coping skills to use throughout life. It can help to identify triggers, plan on how to potentially avoid triggers, and ways to safely handle triggers that can’t be avoided. And it can help to find healthy, supportive people that will provide support during disappointments and difficult times.

As always, NRS is here to listen, here to help. Call NRS at 1-800-RUNAWAY, or go to

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